Bharat Ratnas - this country keeps presenting commentary on itself

Over the years 2018 and 2019, I spent time walking across India on the Out of Eden Walk, with Paul Salopek. Away from my usual routine of river focussed conversations when walking along rivers, this time I had the space to observe things from a slightly wider lens. This is what my walk across India with Paul looked like (the green scribbles) - combined with two traces of my older walks along Rivers Ganga and Ken.

Scribbles over the land. My walking trails.

This new space was enough for me to make regular observations - instead of being in the periphery. Of course, my personal observation skills and political awareness had by now become more informed from years of walking across India.

I started sharing these observations on my social media, with a line saying - ‘This country keeps presenting commentary on itself’. 

This is when my friend, and the witty ad guy - Gopal MS, who also goes by the alt names of Mumbai Paused / Slogan Murugan - suggested this series be called ‘Bharat Ratnas’.

Here we are, with a set of 10 images in the Bharat Ratna series. A telling series of self commentary of our times.


Bricks being made with the stamp of ‘Shri Ram’ or ‘Lord Ram’.
A store front board that reads ‘Ayodhya Arms Store’.
Advertisement of a Hindi News Channel ‘Aaj Tak’ on a match box.
A roadside tea shop has a note: “No bickering. Sitting here without reason is not allowed. By order: Shishupal Yadav”
This one is from an earlier walk. The road safety signboard reads: “Hug your kids at home, but belt them in the car”.
Advertisement for “Buddha Soldier Training Centre”, as seen in Nalanda, close to the ruins of Nalanda University.
A 1km distance marker that reads “Maafi”, which in Hindi means “Sorry or forgiveness”.
The text reads: “Your area, our DJ”.
Advertisement of an Indian political party ‘Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP’ on a match box.
A bag of rice branded “Bharat Mata or Mother India”, with the tag line - “Premium Silky Sortex Rice”.

Do share your thoughts about this series, and if you'd like to see more. Of course, I make no claims of being unbiased.

You can find me on twitter at @sidagarwal.